As documented in Stack Exchange's Markdown Help it's possible to create named "reference-style" links in Markdown:

Here's a very readable link to [Yahoo!][yahoo].

  [yahoo]: https://www.yahoo.com/

However, as pointed out in this post from 2013, attempting to use this syntax can easily trigger a long-standing bug with the post quality check, causing the post to be incorrectly detected as "not properly formatted code". This effectively prevents well formatted questions from being posted.

With no fix for the actual problem, could the documentation at least please be updated to not mention these "reference-style" links?

  • 4
    The proper fix here is to fix the detection algorithm. The code checker is only enabled on a small subset of sites, not all of them, and changing it network-wide to accommodate only a few sites isn't a great thing to do. Commented Jul 1 at 20:13
  • Clearly the correct thing to do is to fix the detection, yes. Given that a markdown aware algorithm should have no problem filtering out recognized links, that should even only need to affect these false positives. I see my frustration has been edited out of the question. I disagree. Documentation should describe current actual functionality, not the ideal desired state. The suggested action ought to be done, and later reverted when (if ever?) the detection bug is finally addressed. Please provide a measurable and actionable path to an improved experience.
    – sampi
    Commented Jul 3 at 6:28
  • The fact is, even despite the code checker detecting it in some cases, it's still a valid way to format a link. Also, higher-reputation users are exempt from the code checker, so removing it will disadvantage those users. Going about it your way would mean having the help page render differently to newer vs. exempt users. Commented Jul 3 at 6:47
  • Had this been a young bug, I might have agreed. It has however been collectively well-known for at least over a decade. God knows how many lower-reputation users it has already discouraged from staying on SE during that time! Please be part of the solution. In case this is truly a wont-fix, where is the underlying issue tracked, and how can it gain traction?
    – sampi
    Commented Jul 3 at 7:14
  • Rather than delete it, the help page should include an explicit warning like “Beware that this form of links might prevent the post from being accepted due to a bug in the mechanism for detection of improperly formatted code. If this happens, format the link differently.” I see no reason not to do that. The help page is supposed to be helpful. Commented Jul 3 at 8:25


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